Saturday 25 November 2017

I am feeling a bit more Christmassy this year but I am at a loss for what to buy for presents

By David Medcalf

David Medcalf
David Medcalf

I know exactly what I want for Christmas.

Eldrick knows exactly what he wants for Christmas. Young Persephone has been dropping hints about smart phones for months.

But no one has any clue whatever what to give dear, sweet, enigmatic Hermione - almost certainly including Hermione herself…

I am a big fan of Christmas though I have long harboured doubts about all the palaver blighting the period leading up to December 25. It is frankly daft to be wandering the aisles of the supermarket humming 'Mary's Boy Child' three or four or five weeks ahead of the big day. The tune was planted in the sub-conscious by the store's muzak system which has been cranking out the carols since early November.

I used to rail against such base commercially motivated madness, giving the whole pre-festive rigmarole a hearty 'bah humbug' at every opportunity. But the hard-line stance was finally broken down this year by the sight of a terraced house at the top of main hill in our town.

No sooner was Halloween out of the way than the residents had their home covered from chimney to doorstep in lights. A blazing Santa on a neon sleigh. Reindeer with winking red noses. Dazzling Christmas trees. A cascade of flashing seasonal stars and symbols.

Ho Ho Ho! Those responsible for these illuminations stood to make no material gain whatever from festooning the building in this way. It was clear that they were running up a massive electricity bill just to gladden the hearts of passers-by, and I decided finally to allow my heart be gladdened.

If our local department store installs a cute a window display of snow covered elves and a lovable nodding polar bear before the clocks go back, let them on without any snide remark from me.

If the hotel bar is serving cocktails with sprigs of plastic holly instead of those silly little paper umbrellas, it is not my place to go all hoity-toity.

On kindly reflection, all the advance hype is a no more than a helpful reminder to us all to make proper plans for the forthcoming Christmas holiday and to buy the appropriate presents.

In a spirit of helpfulness, I am accordingly issuing a few pointers to those who might consider giving me a gift.

The life story of Percy Thrower, the original TV gardener, would make a suitable stocking filler, for instance. I would not turn up my nose either at any work of reference offering reliable information on the cultivation of rhubarb, perhaps wrapped up with a rhubarb stool, or even two rhubarb stools.

The garden centre is peddling a nice line in stainless steel trowels at the moment while stocks last and, for those who are on a limited budget, they also sell dibbers and gardening gloves. A full list of the Medders prezzie suggestions is available on request, in a choice of printed and email versions.

The fly in the Yuletide ointment is that no such list is being circulated by dearest, lovely, desperately-hard-to-buy-for Hermione.

Attempts to broach the subject of what that tender, loving heart might desire have proven difficult, not to say downright discouraging.

'I don't want a flower pot, anyway,' she declares firmly. So no repeat of last year's hand-thrown, Italian pottery with the arty post-Impressionist pattern.

'And if anyone gives me something for the kitchen, I shall scream. Do people think I am chained to the cooker?' The previous year's effort was a deliriously expensive food processor.

'I don't really like reading books, at least not autobiographies. You do realise that, don't you?' Which probably explains why the memoirs of Andrew Ridgeley lie gathering dust on the bedside locker.

Jewellery perhaps? Not from a husband who has neither the taste nor the money to come up with something suitable.

Clothes possibly? The finer points of fashion are as closed a book to me as the Ridgeley memoirs are to her.


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